Slike strani
PDF
ePub

and fearless, he made himself felt in the command, and his death was considered a loss to the service which could not easily be supplied. His name is to be added to the list of the departed brave whom the Ninth Corps has contributed to the preservation of the Republic.

[ocr errors]

CHAPTER III.

JOHN MORGAN'S RAID.

W

HEN General Lee moved from his encampments on

the Rappahannock after the battle of Chancellorsville, he had evidently given all the troops in the “ Confederacy":to understand that it was a signal for commencing an offensive campaign along the entire line. The government of Jefferson Davis was tired of being kept on the defensive, and the invasion of Pennsylvania was determined upon. In West Virginia and Kentucky, the rebel force felt the impulse and exhibited signs of unusual activity. One raiding party reached as far as Maysville, but was there met by Colonel De Courcy, with four regiments of cavalry, and was broken to pieces and driven off in complete rout.

General Willcox, who was in command in Central Kentucky, had proposed a counter raid into East Tennessee, under Colonel W. P. Sanders, a very brave and skilful cavalry officer. The plan was approved, and the necessary, preparations were made. General Willcox was, however, transferred to the command of the district of Indiana, on the 10th of June, in order to quiet some trouble which the disaffected and disloyal people in that quarter were disposed to foment. General Willcox very discreetly and very effectually performed his delicate duty, and was retained in that command. General Hartsuff, succeeding him in Kentucky, completed the preparations for the raid and Colonel Sanders was soon upon the road. The expedition was

Colonel Sanders struck the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad at Loudon, moved up the road, destroying

very successful.

portions of it on the way, threatened Knoxville, burnt the important bridge across the Holston river at Strawberry Plains, captured ten pieces of artillery, a great number of small arms, and four hundred prisoners, and destroyed a large quantity of the enemy's stores. He returned to our lines on 'the 26th, having gained great credit by his gallant and daring feat. Other movements of troops took place, under Generals Julius White and S. P. Carter, in the direction of Monticello, to distract the attention of the enemy and to support Colonel Sanders's operations.

But the enemy himself was not inclined to accept the situation quietly. He prepared for a raid, whose magnitude was to eclipse all former efforts of that description, and to cause considerable alarm throughout the Department. The plan of the enemy was to break through our lines in Western or Central Kentucky, cross the Ohio, plunder the southern tier of counties of Indiana and Ohio, and either escape into West Virginia, or make a bold march through Pennsylvania, and join General Lee's invading army. It was a design of considerable daring, and, had it been successfully executed, would have caused great trouble to our military authorities East and West. The time was happily chosen. The Ninth Corps was absent. The new levies had hardly become thoroughly accomplished in the duties of the soldier. Colonel Sanders's raid had taken away a considerable portion of our cavalry, that were scarcely fit for arduous service upon their return. General Carter's troops who had been stationed on the Cumberland had been engaged in assisting Colonel Sanders. General Halleck had unwittingly done much to cause a feeling of false security to prevail among the people of the Department South of the Ohio, by repeatedly telegraphing during the month of June, that Kentucky was safe, and that the time was ripe for a movement into East Tennessee. General Burnside might possibly, have been disposed to feel, under the influence of such despatches, that his lines were more secure than they really were. Even as late as the 6th of July, the General in Chief stated that

there was “no need of keeping large forces in Kentucky.” Had General Burnside listened too attentively to the suggestions of his superior, instead of acting upon his own more accurate information, Morgan would doubtless have had an unimpeded ride through Indiana and Ohio, and would have got safely off with his booty. As it was, the raid came to a disastrous and ignominious end.

On the 2d day of July, General John H. Morgan, an intrepid and active partizan, with General Basil Duke as second, crossed the Cumberland river at Burkesville and its neighborhood, with a force of four or five thousand men,* well organized, mounted, equipped and armed for a long expedition. Immediately upon receiving intelligence of the movement at headquarters, General Burnside took measures to check the advance of the bold raider, and if possible to cut off his retreat. In the confusion of the moment, our officers and men were hardly prepared for such an incursion. They rallied to their work, however, as promptly as could naturally be expected, but in despite of their efforts, Morgan succeeded in eluding the troops sent to intercept him, and obtained a start of forty-eight hours in advance of his pursuers. Rainy weather came on, and the roads became difficult. On the 3d, in a skirmish with one or two companies of Colonel Wolford's cavalry, our men were worsted. On the 4th, Morgan met with different fortune, as he attempted to cross Green River Bridge at Tebb’s Bend, near Columbia. The post was held by Colonel Orlando H. Moore, with five companies of the 25th Michigan infantry. Colonel Moore selected his ground for defence most judiciously, and awaited the attack. Morgan approached, at half-past three o'clock in the morning, and demanded the 'surrender of the force. Colonel Moore replied with spirit : “The Fourth of July is not a proper day for me to entertain such a proposition.” Morgan at once attacked; but Colonel

* This is the estimate of our officers in Kentucky. The enemy's statement is that Morgan had two thousand and twenty-eight effective men, with four pieces of artillery."

Moore showed that he had not spoken without good warrant. He and his men made a most gallant fight of three and a half hours, and, after an obstinate contest, succeeded in beating off the enemy. Morgan was actually forced to retire, with a loss of over fifty killed, among whom were a Colonel, two Majors, five Captains and six Lieutenants, and two hundred wounded. Our own loss, out of two hundred men, was six killed and twenty-three wounded. The fight was very spirited. “ At times, the enemy occupied one side of the temporary breastworks of fallen timber, while the men of the 25th held the other. After the battle, the enemy, under a flag of truce, requested permission to bury his dead, which was granted. For this defence, the thanks of the Kentucky Legislature were tendered unanimously and by acclamation, to Colonel Moore and his comrades of the 25th."*

On the 5th Morgan attacked the garrison at Lebanon, and forced it to surrender, after a short but desperate fight. The town was plundered. Thence moving to Springfield, the rebel chief divided his force, one column threatening Louisville, another Columbia, and others moving off towards Lexington and Frankfort. But the pursuit had now become well organized and vigorous. Generals Hobson, Judah and Shackleford formed a junction with Colonel Wolford, and the combined forces formed a formidable array of mounted men, infantry and artillery. Morgan drew in his detached parties that had been ravaging the country, securing supplies and seizing horses, and, uniting his forces, made a bold push for the Ohio, by way of Bardstown. Our pursuit was difficult, as the country was scoured clean by the raiders, who secured fresh mounts at every point, while our men were compelled to do the best they could with their jaded animals. On the 7th the pursuing party Bardstown, and, pushing on to Shepherdsville, encamped near that town for the night. Morgan was now about twenty hours ahead in this exciting race. He crossed Rolling Fork,

reached

Report of Adjutant General of Michigan, 1863.

« PrejšnjaNaprej »